An Interview With AnnMarie MacKinnon for Geist Magazine

Publishing is a challenging field to work in, and the landscape keeps changing. To continue to succeed, we need help with staff retention. -AnnMarie MacKinnon

Annmarie Mckinnon has been a long time reader of Geist magazine, a BC-based literary magazine publishing since the ‘90’s. She even studied it during her degree in publishing and communications, so, when a job opened up at the well respected magazine, she jumped at the chance.

“When I was growing up, literature in Canada definitely had a certain feel to it. It was all about big trees and isolation and survival, but we have other stories to tell,” says AnnMarie. She is excited to see the face of Canadian literature changing, especially since she’s been at Geist. Under her leadership, there’s now an emphasis on opening doors to new voices and exploring different modes of storytelling.

It’s an exciting time for Geist, with AnnMarie taking the helm and becoming the third publisher of the magazine since its inception 28 years ago. Yet, it’s also a time of change and transition, especially in terms of recruitment. “There’s no shortage of people interested, but it’s tough to train them and get them the experience they need when there aren’t enough resources.” “A lot of people have this idea that working in magazine publishing is glamourous,” jokes AnnMarie. “It’s definitely not The Devil Wears Prada around here – it’s hard work, long hours. Your eyes burn from reading all the submissions…and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!”

More than 200,000 people read Geist each year, and the publication contributes greatly to the zeitgeist of what’s happening culturally, both in Vancouver and across Canada. “Like all creative industries, we’re in the business of telling stories, one way or another. We’re talking about what’s happening in the world around us. There’s a lot of courage and bravery happening in literature right now.” For AnnMarie, the highlight of her job is finding emerging writers. “I love working with young people who are just getting started, and helping them to make their piece even greater. It’s so satisfying when they get to see their work finally in print, and I know that, in some small way, I helped launch them into something bigger.”

The media landscape is changing, with people able to set up websites to showcase their work in just a few short hours. It can be hard to attract investment in the publishing industry. “Creative BC has been awesome, giving us access to grant money and recognizing literature and publishing as creative endeavors. We need to continue to educate people that writing is an art, while also reminding them about all of the invisible work that goes into publishing a magazine like Geist.”